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Hemingway quote

I’ve always believed that no writer knows precisely what he or she is doing. We test a thought, write it down, read it again and think. I sit down at a desktop computer, surrounded by pictures, notebooks, mementos and a few quotes. I stare at a blank screen, review my notes and go. I agree with the Hemmingway’s philosophy. (See above.)

You may have heard the term, “The words flow,” but that rarely happens to me. In my work, they lurch out and usually are corrected. Sometimes I listen to music – always instrumental – with occasional new-age ocean sounds included. (Lyrics urge me to sing along, which doesn’t help my writing.) Long before earbuds became popular, I inserted ear plugs to obliterate noise in The Tampa Tribune newsroom whenever I filed a story on deadline.

Sometimes I’m asked the difference between writing for a newspaper and writing a book. The quickest answer is space limitations. You have a limited number of words in a newspaper story (unless you’re writing a series of articles) but books provide hundreds of pages to express your ideas.

In either case, when you get it right, when you educate or entertain your reader, the job is satisfying in a way that is hard to explain. You try to make a difference and, when you do, it’s wonderful.


Renee Garrison is currently writing the sequel to her award-winning book, The Anchor Clankers.